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Belief and Bloodshed: Religion and Violence across Time and Tradition Hardcover – February 23, 2007

4.1 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

This cross-disciplinary group of scholars provides fascinating studies across historical periods and religious traditions - all centered around the crucial theoretical point that religious group identities both promote solidarity and can facilitate violence. An important contribution to a timely and urgent conversation. (Rhys H. Williams, University of Cincinnati, Editor, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion)

The case studies in this interesting volume show that religion and violence have been associated throughout history and around the world. From the ancient Near East to 20th century China and contemporary Thailand, violent acts have been committed in the name of religion. Drawing on diverse traditions and theoretical perspectives, this lively volume enlarges our understanding of this dark attraction between bloodshed and belief. (Mark Juergensmeyer, Professor of Sociology and Global Studies, University of California)

Belief and Bloodshed has a definite advantage over similar ones in that it offers a fairly global and historical perspective on its subject. ...All those interested in the nexus of religion and violence - either from a purely academic standpoint or with practical intentions toward the reclamation of faith from its historical and lamentable darker tendencies - would be well served by this important book. (Encyclopedia Of Arkansas History and Culture)

Of the many volumes published on religious violence in the last few years, few rise to the level of Belief and Bloodshed.... A definite advantage over similar ones in that it offers a fairly global and historical perspective on its subject, rather than focusing on the monotheistic traditions and the modern age, as is popular....All those interested in the nexus of religion and violence―either from a purely academic standpoint or with practical intentions toward the reclamation of faith from its historical and lamentable darker tendencies―would be well served by this important book. (Ploughshares Magazine)

Global in scope and acutely sensitive to local manifestations of religious violence in ancient and modern times, this is the best anthology on religion and violence available today. No one interested in the relationship between religion and violence can afford to ignore this intelligent and well-rounded discussion. (Hector Avalos, associate professor of religious studies, Iowa State University; author of Fighting Words: The Origins of Religious Violence)

About the Author

James Wellman is associate professor in the Comparative Religion Program at the University of Washington.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (February 23, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0742558231
  • ISBN-13: 978-0742558236
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,552,224 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
An interesting collection. Belief and Bloodshed is a collection of essays focused on the topic of religious violence. By using a broad base of historical as well as modern examples, Dr. Wellman has pieced together a work that has, within itself, multiple understandings and different criteria underscoring the term "religious violence". Belief and Bloodshed makes it clear that although religion and violence are in-arguably linked, the connection between the two is tenuous at best, and more likely, uniformly unattainable. This collection examines the relationship between religion and violence from uniquely different angles, using examples that span more than two millennia. I thought each section was well written and came to interesting conclusions. I particularly enjoyed Wellman's introduction and chapter discussing Evangelical Christians, as well as the final chapter by Bruce Lincoln. My only criticism of Belief and Bloodshed is that it was not a cohesive work. I would have liked to see some sort of conclusion or discussion about the topics addressed in this collection or some form or transition between topics. All in all, an informative read.
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Format: Paperback
On a crisp, cool Tuesday morning just over 10 years ago, 19 men seized control of four commercial aircraft and changed the course of the one of the world's strongest military force and economic power. The image of fire erupting from the side of one of the United States most iconic structures, footage of men choosing to plunge to their end in place of burning alive, and a city covered in the literal remains of our countries latest victim will forever be burned into this generations mind. It was and continues to be a day that will live in infamy. September 11th 2001 left millions devastat-ed and furious, dumbfounded as to how such a heinous act could be executed against innocent men, woman, and children. Belief and Bloodshed: Religion and Violence across Time and Tradition as edited by Dr. James Wellman, Jr. provides its readers with cultural insight describing similar senseless atrocities that have ravaged the innocent masses in the name of religious cleansing for decades. Dr. Wellman and his colleagues establish that violence catalyzed by religious fervor is not unique to the post-9/11 world, but has been a recurring theme throughout recorded history.
Belief and Bloodshed begins with Mr. Scott Noegel providing his readers a vivid description of ritu-alized brutality citing the discovery of religious temples adorned with piles of human hands, heads, and phalluses. Mr. Noegel explains how the ancient cultures of Egypt and Mesopotamia would execute these brutal acts in accordance with the divine will of their gods.
Mr. Charles McDaniel introduces us to the city of Munster, Germany in the year 1534. Waging a zealous rebellion against the Roman Catholic Church, a group of Anabaptists discarded their com-mitment to non-violence and picked up their swords for battle.
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Wellman has covered a diverse set of cultures and incidents across thousands of years that, in one way or another, involve both violence and religion. He provides examples of when religious people intend specifically to use egregious violence, when violence was quelled by the devout, or even when violence came from secular society to persecute a set of religious beliefs. Indeed, the majority of the examples suggest a correlation between violent acts and religious beliefs, but it is still unclear from the book whether strength of religion is a cause, as opposed to both religion and violent tendencies being the result of the kind of people that deal in absolute convictions. One must keep in mind that there are plenty of religious folks who never hurt a fly that aren't documented here, but I digress. It is difficult to further summarize Wellman's book without going on and on because each chapter is a new stand-alone story, but the best unifying thread I can find is the idea that religion exists in the world of intense passion, and with that passion people are willing to sacrifice lives in their pursuit of the divine.
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I thought this book was a great asset to learning about the relationships between violence and religion. James K. Wellman did a good job in particular, explaining the relationships between religion and the ancient Mesopotamians and Egyptians as they used warfare in their ritual to restore cosmic order, the Romans as they had triumph rituals to celebrate the conquering of new lands, and the Jews as they started to take pacifist approaches to violence in order to maintain faith in Judaism. The book is constructed so every chapter is written by a different author and is a different story from different times and civilizations. I liked the fact that at the end of every chapter there was a conclusion that summed it up. I liked reading the conclusion and then reading the chapter. It gave me a guideline of what the chapter will be discussing. Belief and Bloodshed was a very interesting book to read and I recommend it to anybody who is interested in religion.
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Format: Paperback
Wellman's collection of essays gives an interesting chronological learning experience to his audience. His selection includes a wide variety of religious conflicts, both ancient and modern. Wellman argues that all religions have experienced violence in some form throughout history, and many are still confronting violence in modern times. Included among the collected case studies are religions that I would normally consider pacifist, so to see that even they have instigated violence against others was an interesting learning experience. There are two parts to the volume. The first represents older case studies, such as ancient Egypt and the Jewish revolts against the Romans. The second part represents more modern cases, such as the "honor" killings in Uzbekistan and the violence still ongoing in parts of the world. This second part was an eye opener, since there is much about the conflicts involving the Middle East in the media, but not as much about other parts of the world.

This is a great read for any wishing to learn more about the religious conflict going on throughout the world, both past and present.
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